October 13, 2009

Writing update

So I'm realizing something as I'm writing these children's books of mine:

I know absolutely nothing about writing for children.

I've been a newspaper reporter and editor, I've written marketing materials and internet content and, over the years, written short stories, essays and the beginning of several novels. This is a completely different animal.

I've mentioned that I'm struggling with the reader's age range. I've gotten feedback that my first drafts are too long, probably even for K-2. So this weekend, I tried paring down one of the stories into a shorter, more palatable version that might be considered appropriate for 3- to 5-year-olds. And...I have no idea if it worked and I've improved it, or if it's just...shorter.

When I started this process, I was SO excited and SO motivated. Writing these stories using the characters my father made up when I was a kid was something I'd wanted to do for so long, and I was so pumped to actually DO it.

The excitement carried me through the first couple of stories, when I was just thinking about the stories themselves and enjoying the process of writing, period. When I started thinking more about marketability...the excitement started to wane a bit. (This is, I'm sure, partially due to the fact that I have a relatively short attention span for a 32-year-old.)

As a result of this waning, it's been harder and harder to motivate myself to keep working on the remaining stories (I've finished four; I want to finish at least one more in the next month). I feel like I've lost sight of why I wanted to do this in the first place. NOT to become a famous children's author (although, let's face it: that'd be pretty cool, too), but to preserve the memory of these stories and characters I adored as a child. To give my dad a tangible reminder of one of our fondest shared memories. And to make sure my niece and my future kids will have a piece of those memories, too.

In other words, it's time to re-focus. The marketing and refining and editing and obsessing will come later. Right now, I need to remember why I'm doing this. And then just do it.

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